Beach 59th Street Playground Officially Opens

 Beach 59th Street Playground Officially Opens

By Katie McFadden

The Beach 59th Street Playground is officially open for the community to enjoy. On Tuesday, June 20, NYC Parks Commissioner Sue Donoghue joined Queens Borough President Donovan Richards Jr., Council Member Selvena Brooks-Powers, Community Board 14 District Manager Jon Gaska, the Friends of Beach 59th Street Playground and the community for a ribbon cutting ceremony for the newly reconstructed playground.

In addition to brand new play equipment, the park has new rubber safety surfacing, spray showers, and a new shade structure. The park was also designed with everyone in mind, so a new ADA ramp has been built at the Beach 60th Street entrance to make it easier for individuals with impaired mobility and parents with strollers to access the site. The $5 million project, with $2.9 million from the Office of the Queens Borough President and $2 million from the City Council, was designed with children of varying ages and abilities in mind.

Many thanked Florence Ferguson, board president of Friends of the Beach 59th Street Playground Association, for her advocacy in bringing attention to the formerly disheveled park and fighting for something better for the community. “My heart is full this morning,” she said at the ribbon cutting, seeing the results of her advocacy come together. “To see the fruition of years of advocacy, and on behalf of Friends of the Beach 59th Playground the community, and most of all, the children…,” she added before inviting all those who helped in those advocacy efforts to join her at the podium. “…We want to say our heartfelt thanks because the children are the ones that are really going to benefit from this. We’re changing space and we’re holding space for children of all abilities to come into this playground and feel welcome. Families from the east side to the west side now have a place that is fully accessible for all to come and enjoy.”

Also joining Ferguson were local elected officials that helped make the project possible. Queens Borough President Donovan Richards, who had first started working on it when he was a city council member, was proud of the results. “This specific project was finished on time and on budget and we want to see that happening across the peninsula,” he said. “Today is a great day for park equity and to address inequity in communities of color, and we’re going to make sure that across this peninsula, from Breezy Point to Far Rockaway, that that investment continues to happen. Congratulations to Florence and everyone who had a hand in getting this done.”

As the playground was completed a few weeks ago, the community has already been enjoying it, including Councilwoman Selvena Brooks-Powers’ own family. “My daughter and my nephew and the kids from the local community enjoy themselves here,” she said. “They enjoy the new amenities here at the park and this project is the result of the advocacy of the community. I want to commend the Friends of the Beach 59th Street Playground for the effort they put in. I want you to really take a bow for the work that you did to secure this much needed investment in our community. We deserve recreational infrastructure that meets the needs of the residents. Our kids should have the opportunity to play in safe, high-quality parks. For far too long, outer borough communities and especially communities of color have been deprived of the investments of infrastructure. That’s why this is such a priority for us and a celebration.”

District Manager Jon Gaska, who has worked in Rockaway for at least three decades, acknowledged the noticeable change in the park. “This is the second ribbon cutting I’ve been to for this park, and this is much nicer than the last one. It is ten times nicer than the first park. The good ol’ days are here,” he said.

NYC Parks Commissioner Donoghue says they are committed to investing in Rockaway, and this park was just one of six projects that are opening or have already opened in the community this summer, as part of a $33 million investment for the peninsula.

Beach 59th Playground is located at 6006 Beach Front Rd, in Arverne. For further info, including upcoming events, visit Facebook page: Friends of the Beach 59th Street Playground Association.

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